Re: Using overload to implement the equivalent of a switch

Eric Sosman <>
Wed, 13 Aug 2008 14:33:48 -0400
Everyone wrote:

I've been trying to use polymorphism -via- overloading+overriding to
simulate a dynamic switch

class AbstractBase{
 public abstract void doSomething(Object anObject);
 public void activate(Object anObject){

class ResponsibleChild{
 public void doSomething(Object anObject){
   System.out.println("Type not supported");
 public void doSomething(Integer anInt){
 public void doSomething(String aString){


class Main{
 public static void main(String args[]){
   AbstractBase reference = new ResponsibleChild();

The output I expected from this was ;


However the actual output is ;
Type not supported
Type not supported

Shouldn't the call
a. be made in the context of the object, and
b. narrow to the best possible match for the method signature

     There's a good explanation of this in Bloch's "Effective Java"
(I've only seen the first edition, but I understand a second came
out fairly recently.) Briefly, overloading is like overriding
only in that they both begin with "over" and end with "ding."
In all other respects they are unlike, and they do not (can not)
follow the same rules.

     Overriding: A method in a subclass has the same name and
     parameter list as a method in one of its superclasses. The
     actual class of the run-time object determines which method
     definition is called.

     Overloading: Two or more methods have the same name but
     different parameter lists. The compile-time nature of the
     arguments provided in the call determines which method is


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